Local Reactions From LAUSD, Families On Fatal Tour Bus Crash - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Local Reactions From LAUSD, Families On Fatal Student Tour Bus Crash

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UPDATE From Phil Shuman 6:19pm: EN ESPANOL

El Monte HS Grieving

By all accounts Adrian Castro was a popular, smart, funny and humble high school senior in El Monte. He was on his way to college, now that dream is gone; gone in the fiery crash in Northern California that took his life and nine others.  His friends at school were literally in shock when they heard the news, apparently on a public announcement from the principal this morning, before anything was officially announced by the authorities investigating the crash.  There were a lot of tears, a lot of hugs, a lot of teenagers shaking their head in disbelief at having to accept the fact that they are not invincible.  A football teammate said it was "like losing a brother."  Nathaniel Medina said Adrian was the type of guy who always gave one hundred percent no matter what he was doing. Accidents or tragedies like these never makes sense, and as they say time heals all wounds but try telling that to a high school student who just lost a close friend.  It doesn't make a lot of sense, nothing about last night will, perhaps ever.




UPDATE From Hal Eisner 4:38pm:

One parent tells me "I can't believe it." A student outside Manual Arts High School says "I'm kinda scared to get on a bus now."

WORDS of emotion when something awful happens like this week's Northern California bus wreck.

Any parent knows that for a lot of teens the WORDS in a Humboldt State University video promoting the school speak volumes about what students feel. Words like "opportunity" and "progress."

After all, that's what about-to-be-grads are all about. Many going off to check out which of the colleges they want of those that have accepted them. But, there are a lot of those who still have to decide that can't afford to attend HSU's "Spring Preview" which is an open house of sorts. It's a chance for students to meet faculty, see classrooms and ask questions that will help them decide.

To help students from low income and first generation families attend "Spring Preview" the University, twenty years ago, set up a program called "Preview Plus."

The idea was to provide free charter busses, meals, dormitory space and cover all expenses for those who, otherwise, could not attend. The students on the north-bound busses were all taking advantage of "Preview Plus."

As I stood outside Manual Arts High School Lola Anderson, who had just dropped off a student, told me "it's just very sad. Young people on their way to becoming what they wanted to become. And, now this happens."

For some, though, there simply no WORDS.



UPDATE 12:05pm PDT: A hotline for LAUSD parents concerned about students involved in
last night's bus crash has been established at (213) 241-3841.

(FOX 11 / CNS) The Long Beach Unified School District says it had two students aboard the bus that crashed in Orland -- one from the California Academy of Mathematics and Science, which is on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson; and -- one from Polytechnic High School. Both students suffered injuries described as "non-life-threatening,''according to the LBUSD.

Pasadena Unified School District officials say four students from that district took part in the bus trip to Humboldt State University, but only one was aboard the bus that crashed. That student suffered leg injuries, according to the district.

Sheriff's officials say they will work throughout the weekend to identify the bodies of those who were killed in the Orland bus crash, but note that since the bodies were severely burned, coroner's officials will be relying on medical and dental records, and possibly on DNA if those records are unavailable.

California Highway Patrol officials say investigators will be examining all of the vehicles involved in the Orland bus crash to see if any mechanical failures contributed to the wreck. It's unclear if the driver of the FedEx truck fell asleep or if there was a mechanical problem with the truck, or
if another accident may have occurred that forced the truck across the freeway median. Investigators will also be looking at weather and road conditions, according to the CHP.

California Highway Patrol officials say 31 people were taken to seven different hospitals following that Orland bus crash.

California Highway Patrol officials say the investigation into that bus crash in Northern California will be a "long, tedious process'' and "we may not have some answers for months.''


UPDATE 9:30am PDT: Among the dead, 26-year-old college recruiter Arthur Arzola of Rancho Cucamonga, confirmed by the Sacramento County coroner's office confirmed.

(FOX 11 / CNS) Five students and five adults were killed when a bus ferrying Southland students scheduled to visit Humboldt State University collided with a big rig in Northern California, sparking a spectacular fire, authorities said today.

The adults killed in the crash included the two drivers and the three chaperones accompanying Los Angeles-area high school seniors, the California Highway Patrol reported. A CHP dispatcher said five students were confirmed among the dead, along with the drivers of both vehicles.

None of the victims has been identified.

The students were scheduled to visit Humboldt State University in Arcata when their bus, which was chartered by the university, collided with the big rig on Interstate 5 near the town of Orland around 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The 48 occupants included 44 students, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.  

The LAUSD said that on the bus were 19 students from 16 LAUSD schools -- San Fernando, Grant, Dorsey, Fremont, City of Angels, Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, Manual Arts, Banning, Carson, Chavez, Diego Rivera, Belmont, Wilson, Chatsworth, Jefferson, and Middle College. Counselors will be at each campus today to assist students and parents, according to LAUSD officials.

CHP spokeswoman Tracy Hoover said 34 of the bus occupants were hospitalized. Other CHP dispatchers said more than 15 of those patients were being treated for major injuries. The collision occurred when a southbound FedEx big rig towing two trailers crossed into the northbound lanes, sideswiping a car and colliding head-on with the tour bus, around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

The tour bus was carrying students who were en route to a campus visit at Humboldt State University in the city of Arcata. Jonathan Gutierrez, a student at Banning High who was aboard the bus, tweeted that he had sustained "bruised leg, eyebrow cut open, scratches all over my arm & all my stuff that I packed is burned. i'm beyond thankful that I'm still here.''

The bus was carrying 48 people, including three chaperones and the driver. The injured were being treated at five area hospitals, Joyce Lopes, the Humboldt State vice-president for administrative affairs said. She said the university had chartered three buses for the campus tour. One was for students from Fresno. The other two carried students from Los Angeles.

Lopes said the students had been assigned to buses "largely, but not entirely'' on an alphabetical basis. Some students with names earlier in the alphabet had left Los Angeles on the second bus, she said, adding that the buses had been due to arrived at the university around 7 p.m. Thursday. The second L.A. bus arrived safely, and counselors were made available for the students, Lopes said.

LAUSD spokesman Tommy Chang said the principals of the involved schools have been informed of developments. Hoover, the CHP spokeswoman, said the collision sequence began with the big rig crossing into the northbound lanes for an unknown reason, side-swiping a white sedan and then colliding with the bus. This was followed by an "immediate explosion,'' she said.

The bus was owned by Silverado Stages of San Luis Obispo. A statement on the company's website said it was helping authorities gather information regarding the accident. "Our top priority is making sure the injured are being cared for, "the statement said. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were on sent to the site.

Humboldt State University said the prospective students were en route to a spring preview day scheduled for today -- part of a two-day visit to the Arcata campus. The students were participants in the university-funded Preview Plus program, which brings low-income and first-generation prospective students from the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas to the campus, according to Humboldt State.

Families of students who may have been affected were advised to contact university police at (707) 826-6327 for further information or guidance. The Red Cross has established a support site in Orland for victims of the crash at the Orland Veterans Memorial Hall.

The American Red Cross was assisting in the reunification of students and parents, and it appeared that the parents of some of the students had been re-united with their children. Banning High's Jonathan Gutierrez tweeted at 2:44 a.m.,  "so relieved to have my dad here.''



From Hal Eisner:

Manual Arts High School is one of 16 on the list of LAUSD school's that has students on the busses that went to Humboldt State University's "Preview Plus." That's a program aimed at giving college educations to teens from low-income and first-generation families.

Adriana Cuevas was, according to her friend Alvaro Rodriguez, on one of the busses and okay. Rodriguez knows that because he got an instagram picture from Cuevas saying she was fine. The internet was buzzing with such messages in the aftermath of the awful Northern California bus crash that, as of this writing, killed 10 people and injuries many more.

The school district promised it would provide crisis counseling and, in fact, we learned from LAUSD's Martha Marquez each school has it's own in-house team trained for situations like this. It's made up of mostly counselors already at each school. Some schools have a full time psychologist or social worker, she says. More help will be provided if necessary, but when we spoke no additional help was needed at any of the schools.

At Manual Arts there were students who told me what happened was devastating. They were hoping none of their friends were hurt. And, there were parents who were saddened by the deaths and left wondering how the crash and following inferno will affect survivors.

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